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2010 Spoleto Embraces Renovated SC Theater

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CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Spoleto Festival USA plans to celebrate the reopening of a nearly 300-year old South Carolina theater with a production that was the first opera ever performed in the American colonies.

Charleston's Dock Street Theatre should be ready to open by the time the two-week festival begins May 28 after three years of renovations. The original theater on the site opened in 1736.

The organizers of the 34th annual arts festival plan several high profile evens for the restored facility, including a new production of the 18th century English ballad opera "Flora."

The show became the first opera ever performed in the American colonies in Charleston in 1735. It was so well received that another showing was performed later as one of the first shows at the Dock Street Theatre.

The lineup for the Spoleto festival was announced Sunday. Other highlights include:

–  The first U.S. production of Wolfgang Rihm's opera "Proserpina" about the goddess of springtime and queen of the underworld.

–  Marionette opera "Philemon and Baucis," composed by Franz Joseph Haydn and performed by Colla Marionette Company about an old Greek couple whose hospitality to gods dressed as peasants saves their lives and brings them great rewards.

–  Three virtuosic string-based ensembles: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, celebrated for their lively interpretations of West African Bambara music; New York's Ebony Hillbillies, with roots in jazz, blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, rock-and-roll, and country; and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, known for their fiddle and banjo music.

–  A revival of Lucinda Childs' 1979 work "Dance," set to an original score by Philip Glass and framed by a black-and-white film by artist Sol LeWitt.

–  Displays of JoAnn Verburg's photographs of Spoleto, Italy, at the Gibbes Museum of Art and Nick Cave's "Soundsuit" sculptural works and Phyllis Galembo's photographs of West African masqueraders at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

The Spoleto Festival USA was started in Charleston in 1977 by the late composer Gian Carlo Menotti based on his Festival of Two Worlds in the Italian city of Spoleto.





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